I am often asked what to pack for an academic conference to balance professional meeting wear with going out at night (often with your colleagues), maintain everything in carry-on, and look polished as soon as you arrive -- since your colleagues may arrive before you. I just returned from AUPO (Association of University Professors in Ophthalmology) which is basically for those academic ophthalmologists that also focus on resident and medical school education, and/or clinical and department administration. This meeting was in San Diego so my 'carry-on' could spill over more than usual but I took the opportunity to share some tips which I hope will help you pack for your next work trip.
1) wear the same darkly colored blazer every day (think black or navy and this is max 2-maybe 3 days)
2) wear this over a dress or a silk skirt and fitted slacks (one outfit for each meeting day)
3) combo black pumps with these if possible (if you have the room ALWAYS add more shoes, but if not one pair of black shoes will do)
4) bring one outwear jacket only if necessary (and wear this to travel)
5) jeans which can be worn with the above silk blouses
6) or a different pair of shoes to change the look of the dress for a more casual going-out look
7) there is usually one fancy dinner -- and every professional woman should have some cute but covered cocktail dresses. I like ones in black -- although wore one also in purple here. Sometimes the right dress can also double as meeting wear under a blazer -- and the purple one did!
So ...I cheated a little here with shoes since I was driving, otherwise everything fit nicely in the carry-on Tumi so that I was professional, prepared, and well put-together all meeting long! The San Diego Harbor Marriot was lovely and venturing out to Herb & Wood was absolutely delightful. Enjoy your next conference!